What defines a novelty yarn? I’m going with:
new to me and having an interesting composition
Here is a photo of a scarf I recently completed using Bendigo 3 ply as warp at 8 dpi and Tirchonaill as weft. The Tirchonaill is pure wool and came in a 100g ball. To me, it meets the definition of being a novelty yarn, and a lovely one. Exactly half the ball of Tirchonaill got consumed for this project, meaning I will be able to make another scarf. I’m happy about that as I love the green colour.
I picked the Tirchonaill up at a guild member’s stash sale. I didn’t sample but I did have a plan in mind. I wove an open structure in plain weave, intending to have a soft drapey fabric at the end of the process. That worked. The selvages looked a bit loopy on the loom but came good after the finishing step.
The borders are Bendigo 3 ply, doubled. These were a bit of a concern at the hemming stage as this part of the weave didn’t pull together as much as the green during the wet-finishing stage. A bit of steam-pressing evened out the width sufficiently that I could hem the fabric without sacrificing the splash of colour contrast.
My vacation is long since over but I want share a few pictures from Mission San Miguel Arcangel, located in San Luis Obispo county in California. Just off the highway, this mission is in an agriculturally rich area. There must also be an army base nearby, based on uniformed personnel we saw eating at nearby Leo’s Cafe.
The loom below was part of a display of how the mission operated. Sadly it’s not in a usable state.
After completing the linen and lace course with Kay Faulkner I felt confident and eager to get started on a project I had put on the Dorset loom over the Christmas break, an Atwater Bronson table runner in 3/2 cotton.
Working in the coarser 3/2 cotton was a joy because it was easy to spot and correct mistakes. It was also good to be working with a coloured yarn. The finer white linen we used during the course added another little hurdle for a beginner such as myself as errors were tricky to spot. Weaving in my own space, at my own pace further helped to reduce the error rate.
My own design variant
I made two runners, one following faithfully the project instructions in Pattie Graver’s Next Steps in Weaving and the other to my own design.
The projects in the Next Steps book are particularly well described and tell you everything you need to know, such as sett, width in the reed etc in a way where you can find the essential information quickly, without having waste energy scanning the text. I do recommend the book for anyone beginning their weaving journey, as I am.
This runner was done by the book
I spent last week in the greater Brisbane area attending a weaving workshop taught by Kay Faulkner, who is both an expert weaver and an expert teacher.
Over five days our group of four students learned the theory and practice of huck, spot Bronson, Bronson and Swedish lace using beautiful 18/2 Swedish linen.
Kay had warped the looms for us in advance and we rotated between them to make our class samples.
I enjoyed having the opportunity to compare an eight shaft jack loom and an eight shaft Glimåkra countermarche loom. The pressure was on though, as we had five days to make our samples and almost all of the information was new to me. Kay provided correction and guidance on technique. Apparently there is no need for a temple or stretcher when your shuttle technique is correct. All I can say is that my selvages improved over the five days.
Sadly for me every sample I completed had at least one mistake in it, the worst sample being the first I attempted and the one I named The Spot Bronson of Shame. That sample was the first on my steep learning curve and I came away from the course a more informed weaver with a thirst for more learning and more time at the loom.
I would recommend Kay’s workshops to anyone wanting to intensively focus on developing their skills, especially if you have some weaving experience and your goal is technical mastery.
The first towel
My first attempt at rosepath
didn’t yield the results I was expecting. The only thing to do was try again, this time with a series of four tea towels (dish towels) in mind.
I am using 8/4 carpet warp cotton for the warp and weft. The borders are 8/2 cotton doubled. I chose to use 8/4 carpet warp after reading Tom Knisely’s baby blanket project description in Handwoven Magazine (Nov/Dec 2016) where he describes it as a yarn that is cost effective and one that softens with use and washing. I used the 16 epi twill sett that is in the project notes and warped my loom using Osma Tod’s ‘authentic way of weaving rosepath’ draft, detailed in her wonderful book The Joy of Hand Weaving. Her drafts are written for a sinking shed loom and I was glad I noticed that before I started weaving on my jack loom.
Effective but Ugly Pirn Winder
This project had brought different mistakes, new learnings and another first. I am using a boat shuttle for the first time, with paper pirns, wound using Tinkerer’s battery-operated drill. It’s an ugly solution but it seems to be effective. I bought a piece of 3mm brass rod to use as a spindle and am attaching the pirns to the spindle using a small piece of masking tape (painter’s tape.) I’m sure the purists will disapprove but it will do for now. One day I might have a fancy bobbin winder.
The weaving width is 18 inches in the reed and I am weaving each towel to a length of 30 inches under tension. The goal is that each towel will measure 17 by 28 inches after wet finishing and hemming but as I’m still weaving towel #3, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
By the way, the border element in the first towel pictured above has a mistake (one of many) that is visible if you zoom in on the photo. The second towel has no mistakes that I know of at this stage and the third seems to be coming along nicely.
This rag rag was always intended to be a test. It was the first time I used warp from my big cone of 8/4 cotton rug warp, a first time using a temple (stretcher), a first time finishing a rug with a turned edge and a first time weaving with a rose path threading.
The hemmed ends are a first
- Don’t keep threading after you start feeling tired. You will regret it when you find yourself rethreading the following day.
- Measure twice, cut once. I was two warp threads short. The problem was easily solved with a new length of warp and some washers for weights, but I had to think about how to solve it.
- Using a temple is well worthwhile. No draw in visible this time.
- It’s worth the time sewing strips together for the weft but this only worked well for me with the main pattern 1 1/2 inch strips. The sewn joins on the narrower 1cm strips that I used for the hemmed edges pulled apart under tension.
- Worn out sheets make excellent weft strips. This rug has a combination of worn fabrics (old sheets and shirts) and new fabrics (the dark blue is a remnant and the brown is a never used bed skirt from the op shop.) The worn fabrics packed in better and were less rigid in the finished mat.
- Don’t be frightened to make up your own design. Magazines and books are great but so are your pencil, your calculator and your mind. One of the reasons I bought the huge mill end spool of cotton rug warp was so I could experiment freely without worrying about wasting expensive rug warp.
The rose path threading yielded sections with patterns that remind me of the beach. It’s a lot less formal a look than I had in mind but I like the unstructured look. Having said that, the rose path border patterns I tried to achieve were a total bust. I don’t know what went wrong and I’m keen to try again.
I plan to have a crack at dying the warp next. I like the yellow, but I also like variety.
I’m away from my big looms right now. My temporary status as a nomadic person gives me the opportunity to try my hand at Sami style band or tape weaving. The Sami are the nomadic peoples of northern Scandinavia but the tape weaving tradition is well established in Sweden also.
If you’re interested in getting up and running with this technique yourself, this Band Weaving site, written in Swedish, has photos that illustrate the components clearly enough that you could get by without reading the words.
Here’s my kit.
Here’s my warping board. In my enthusiasm, I forgot to make a cross and I paid the price with tangles later, but it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed.
And here’s the work in progress.
Not bad for my first project
I plan to apply steam to finish the tape to try and get it smoother but first there is a lot more weaving to do. Next I will experiment with different fibres and colours. The fine holes on the Stoorstålka heddle are a bit limiting on using heavier yarn for the pattern threads it seems to me. I wonder how others have dealt with that. I can’t be the first.